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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  October 21, 2011 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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actually catalyze growth by debating issues. that's a question not fair to ask or answer in ten seconds. enjoyed the rant, jonathan. hope you have a wonderful weekend. >> you too. >> that'll do it for us this week. thanks for spending your time with us. iam dylan ratigan and "hardball's" up right now. bye-bye, baghdad. let's play "hardball." good evening. i'm chris matthews in washington. leading off tonight, out of iraq. barack obama's campaign for president began with his opposition to the war in iraq. well, today, without the embellishment of a self-serving mission accomplished banner, president obama announced all american troops will be out of iraq by the end of the year. >> after nearly nine years, america's war in iraq will be over. >> wow. well, the president made the
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announcement one day after the killing of moammar gadhafi. that strengthened his bona fides on foreign policy and allowed him to say to the republicans, essentially, go ahead, try to oppose me on this one. plus, castro convertible. maybe we now know why senator marco rubio keeps insisting he's not a candidate for vice president. rubio has dined off the story that his parents fled fidel castro's cuba. now we learn they fled batista's cuba, years before castro took power. rubio's explanation, such as it is, simply doesn't pass the sniff test. also, herman cain is against abortion rights. no, wait, he's for them. well, actually, he's for them and he's against them. or maybe it's the other way around. cain's self-contradictory positions and confounding explanations even have conservative republicans asking, how many do-overs does this guy get? and the republican presidential candidate democrat seems to like
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the most, jon huntsman, joins us here tonight, right here, to play "hardball." let me finish tonight with the iraq war that we never should have fought. we start with today's dramatic announcement, however, that all american troops will be out of iraq by the end of this year. patrick murphy is the first iraq war veteran to serve in the u.s. congress. and today he's a candidate for attorney general for pennsylvania. and michael hirsch is with "national journal." thank you, gentleman, for joining us. let's take a look at the president's comments today, and they begin to dovetail from, we're getting out of iraq, and i wish you'd put these young men and women to work. here's the president making clear that jobs for veterans is priority number one. >> as we welcome home our newest veterans, we'll never stop working to give them and their families the care, the benefits, and the opportunities that they have earned. this includes enlisting our veterans in the greatest challenge that we now face as a nation, creating opportunities and jobs in this country. because after a decade of war,
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the nation that we need to build and the nation that we will build is our own, and an america that sees its economic strength restored, just as we've restored our leadership around the globe. >> well, patrick, i merely thought of you today, because you were one of the people heroic enough to make the right statement on iraq from the beginning. and you're, of course, an iraq veteran who then got elected to congress. and now, of course, i assume you're concerned about the unemployment rate in pennsylvania. tell us how these two issues come together. cheering the troops as they come home, but also offering them an opportunity here in this country. >> you know, it's interesting, chris, i got a comment today from a young woman, lakeisha watson moore on my facebook page, and she said, why don't we take that money we invest in iraq and invest it here in job training programs for these heroes coming home. for these heroes i served with in iraq and who are now coming home finally, we need to make sure, they served our country,
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they fought for us over there, they shouldn't have to come home and fight for a job here at home. we need to know all we can. i will tell you that mrs. obama, the first lady, has done a tremendous job, and dr. jill biden, the second lady, they have teamed on this effort to make sure that these heroes -- because the unemployment rate for veterans coming home is even higher than the general population. we have to take care of these heroes. we have to give them opportunities, whether it's the gi bill i voted for and helped pass or whether it's tax breaks for small businesses to hire these veterans. >> let me go to michael hirsch, reporting on this nationally. this question of concern for veterans. the republicans are very good, and i do respect them on this. they do care about their soldiers, and visiting them when they get hurt and they get bounded. and of course, grieving their deaths. this question about creating a opportunity at home, was it interesting? it was to me. i'll ask you the open-ended question. the president timed these two issues together. respect for the soldiers and opportunity for them. >> i mean, this has been a consistent theme, chris, for months now. when he announced the
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afghanistan drawdown back in june, i think it was the first time he used the phrase, we need toot nation building at home. and that's something that ties together with the biggest political issue in his future, which is the economy and the jobless rate, as well as winding down these two wars. i think you're going to see him repeat that again and again, as three withdrawal timetables continue. >> and here's president obama pointing out that he'd kept a campaign promise in ending the war. let's listen. >> as a candidate for president, i pledge to bring the war in iraq to a responsible end. today, i can report that as promised, the rest of our troops in iraq will come home by the end of the year. after nearly nine years, america's war in iraq will be over. >> on october 2nd, 2002, then-illinois state senator, barack obama, made an anti-war
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wars. what i'm opposed to is a dumb war. what i'm opposed to is a rash war. what i'm opposed to is the cynical attempt by richard peril and paul wolfowitz and other armchair weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, rir respective of the costs in lives lost and the hardships borne." a lot of us thought this was an ideological war, we were talked into, some of the american people were, first of all, the president was talked into, and then we went to war basically on an ideological jag. your thoughts? it's over. >> my thoughts, chris, i was on active duty when 9/11 happened, and my best friend growing up in northeast philadelphia lost her girlfriend and her father who were murdered along with 3,000 other innocent americans. and i deployed, i volunteered, my first deployment was with general petraeus. came back from that deployment.
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that was 2002. then there was the ramp-up in 2003, as you know, to the iraq war. and i remember being back home on our soil, on active duty thinking to myself, as a young captain, why are we going to iraq? we're not -- we haven't brought bin laden to justice. and next thing you know, i shipped out with the 82nd airborne division, and unfortunately, 19 of my fellow paratroopers never made it home. and i saw firsthand in baghdad in 2003 and 2004 how shorthanded we were and how it was not the right war. and i came home and i stood up for that. for my beliefs and what i saw. and i tell you, it was not easy, and you know that, chris. it was serving in a republican district, and sometimes you get your patriotism questioned. but what is important is that you do the right thing for the right reasons. and that's what barack obama has done since day one. he was very clear to the american public that we will focus on bin laden, we will bring our troops home from iraq. he did that, he kept that promise. but he also, and very important to note, he said, we will bring bin laden to justice.
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he did that. even though people like john mccain criticized him. because, remember that question, michael smerconish said, well, what happens if bin laden's in pakistan, and john mccain said, no, no, we can't tangle with that, and barack obama said, we will bring him to justice, period. and we did that. we brought number two of al qaeda to justice. he is continually made america safer. and the news, just yesterday, with gadhafi. and let's be very clear. bringing gadhafi to justice is an important step to keep our world safer. and i will tell you, chris, and you know why this is important, because we have people that, unfortunately, american service members who were murdered by gadhafi, we have people that, unfortunately, were killed, americans -- there's a young girl who was 21 years old, miss johnson. she's from greensburg, pennsylvania. a semester abroad in scotland. she was on that flight coming home when she came to her death because of gadhafi. finally, he was brought to justice. this guy was a madman.
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do the republicans give the commander in chief, barack obama, credit for any of these things? absolutely not. they continually politicize this thing. today is a day to say, thank god these troops are coming home from iraq, thank god, frankly, we were able to bring bin laden and gadhafi to justice, and let's make sure that we invest our money, our time, our talent, and our lives of our americans here at home. >> this is why politics today stinks so much. you know, michael, when you're growing up, you're taught to play by the rules. when you're playing cowboys and indians, you get shot, you say, you got me. when an american president achieves a success, why does the other side not just give him that day? move on and argue about something else the next day? >> it's remarkable, both that he hasn't got a jump in the poll from what i see that's been clearly a series of successes, clearly the bin laden takedown, and the gadhafi mission, let's face it, it was very carefully calculated, it wasn't very
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expensive, there wasn't a single american life lost, and a dictator was brought down. compare that to the $2 trillion iraq war. but what's also striking is the lack of graciousness on the part of some of the republicans. i was very struck to hear mitt romney come out today and say that this was either a naked political calculation on obama's part or it was just incompetence in negotiations. i mean, i was with president bush back in early 2008 when he announced the beginning of these negotiations. >> yeah, the deal. >> and who were negotiating? david petraeus was then the general in charge of the iraq war, and ryan crocker was then the iraq ambassador. these are two figures that are now serving the obama administration. i mean, these negotiations were a continuum. and there was very little that obama could have done. the iraqis were existing extending the troop presence at pa all. i think romney's criticism was somewhat off -- >> it's knee-jerk criticism and it's really pathetic for romney to be so pathetic. >> very short thought, ten seconds. >> chris, real quick. that's why people hate politics. you're absolutely right. when you have people like mitt
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romney who whatever president obama does, he's against. that's why people are tired of it. they want people who stand up for the core of their convictions, people like barack obama, and hopefully people like patrick murphy for attorney general. but i'll tell you, there are people, both democrats and republicans who get it, that we need to invest in, but especially, i would say, on the democratic side. >> okay. thanks so much, patrick murphy, serves in congress, first iraq war vet to do so. he's now running for attorney general. thank you, michael hirsch, from the "national journal." coming up, senator marco rubio, once a rising star, perhaps now a shooting star in the republican party, has long told the story, and it's a good one, the story, that his parents fled castro's cuba, that they were compile exiled, the proble they didn't. they left before castro took over. how damaging will this be to rubio, having ridden so long on this inflated story of heroism.
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for the second time in ten days, senate republicans have blocked president obama's jobs bill. by a 50/50 vote, republicans rejected a $35 billion provision to allow state and local governments to hire teachers and first responders. 60 votes were needed to overcome a republican filibuster to offset the cost. the bill would have imposed a surtax of 0.5% on people earning more than $1 million a year. three democrats voted against it, ben nelson, mark pryor, and joe lieberman, that's 5.6. president obama put out statement after the vote saying that every american deserves an explanation as to why republicans refuse to step up to the plate and do what's necessary to create jobs and grow the economy right now. we'll be right back. the two trains and a bus rider. the "i'll sleep when it's done" academic.
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welcome back to "hardball."
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florida senator marco rubio is scrambling right now to undo the damage of a "washington post" report that he embellished his family history to benefit politically. rubio has peddled the story for years that he's the child of parent who is fled cuba some time after fidel castro took power in 1959. but "the washington post" uncovered documents showing that rubio's parents actually arrived to the united states in may of 1956, 2 1/2 years before castro. that makes them ex-pats, not refugees from communism. what does it make rubio? that's a great question. manuel franzia broke this story for "the washington post," and joe conason is with the nationalmemo.com. i want to show you something that really puts it in perspective. this is clear-cut. for a long time, marco rubio, once considered a possible vp nominee this coming year for the republicans, has made it clear that he's one of those people who comes from an anti-communist past, a cold war past. his parents left cuba because a
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communist stole that country, fidel castro, which, of course, occurred. but his family left well before that. here he is, bragging on who he is, and he ain't. american bridge 21st century has put together a montage about rubio's statements about his family history. let's watch. >> i think that the direction we're going now in washington, d.c. would make us more like the rest of the world, and not like the exceptional nation my parents came here from cuba in 1959. >> your father came here from cuba? >> my parents both did, in 1959. >> my parents and grandparents came here from cuba in '58, '59. >> as the son of exiles, i know it's possible to lose your country. >> i was raised by exiles. >> and no matter what titles i may achieve in my life, i will always be the son of exiles. >> well, that's pretty clear-cut, manuel. >> it is. you know, i got into looking at this because i'm working on a
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biography of senator rubio for simon and shuster and came across some documents that had that '56 date, and i was skeptical at first. i thought it could have been a typo, 6, 9, 56, 59, could have been a mix-up. but there was one document after another after another that are the exact same date, and it is clear that that was when they came. >> i've caught politicians doing this. lying in their resume to make themselves look like they're something not. what happened when you -- did you confront them? how did you confront his people? how did you get him to deal with this, or did you get him to deal with it? this dishonesty? >> i talked to senator rubio's staff. they invited me over to their office to look at some passports, copies of passports. they didn't want me to take them with me, but they said that i could look at them. and what was interesting about the passports is that they showed that during this period, between 1956 and 1959, the rubio
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parents were in miami all the time. >> okay. then they put out -- joe conason, what do you make of this? we've got a lot more documentation to show you here about this ruse that went on here, to make him look like a real anti-comy. your thoughts? >> well, i've seen senator rubio give different dates for when he knew his parents came over or when he said his parents came over. at different times, he's given different years for when his parents and grandfather came. and i think most of the children of immigrants have a pretty clear idea of when their families came to the united states and under what circumstances. i mean, it's easy to imagine little marco growing up and saying to mommy, what was it like under castro in cuba? and why did we leave? and mommy probably saying to him, well, we weren't really there then, son. >> how could you not have had that conversation? what was it like when castro took over? everybody who saw "godfather ii" knew what that was like. why didn't you ask your parents?
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i noticed that he shot 600 people, to you know any of them? you always ask that stuff. >> it's like the immigrant jews or the irish not knowing about the potato famine. this is part of the immigrant menthos. and if you didn't hear that that way as a child, you're missing something. it's hard for me to believe that he didn't know the real circumstances. >> i think it's that fuzzy, joe. you're being a little kind around the edges. but a biography of rubio on his own website leave is no wiggle room as to whenu.s.. it reads, quote, 1971, marco was born in miami to cuban-born parent who is came to america following fidel castro's takeover. it's his own official document. we should also note that the same wording can be found in the biography, which appeared on the senate campaign website back in 2010. he keeps putting out this folderall, this cover story, over and over again. i want to give the guy a chance to respond to this, but i think
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this makes him look even more foolish. when you're caught, you ought to admit you're caught. he doesn't admit he's caught, manuel, he lashes out at you. here he is lashing out at "the washington post," calling it outrageous, in a statement yesterday, saying he won't stand for it. he lashed out again in politico, saying, "here's what the senator said in his cover, "if "the washington post" wants to criticize me for getting a few dates wrong, i accept that. but to call into question the central and defining event of my parents' young lives, the fact that a brutal communist dictator took control of their homeland and they were never able to return is something i will not tolerate. ultimately, what "the washington post" writes is not that important to me. i am the son of exiles. i inherented two generations of unfulfilled dreams. this is a story that needs no embellishing." then why did you do it? how can people put out this pompous, indignant, nonsense when they're caught dead to rights? >> well, i don't know if i would use those exact words, but i
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will say this. there's an interesting story, whether they came before or after castro. in fact, in some respects, if they came before castro, it's an immigrant story that would be understood by a lot of people in the united states right now. millions of people in the united states right now, who came here looking for economic improvement, a better life, all of these things that we hear when we hear interviews on the mexican border, for instance, and it appears that based on the timing of this, that the motivation would have very likely been for the rubio family to come here and find work and have a better life, all those same reasons. but it's not the narrative that the senator's comfortable with. >> this is, obviously, joe, very ideological, not so much ethnic. because he's already
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cuban-american. he doesn't have to argue about that. that's a fact on the record. but he had to be part of this right-wing struggle against communists, he has to appeal to the tea party types. it seems like what's going on is an attempt to foist an unfactual history to win over the approval of right-wingers across the country. >> yes, of course. he wants to cloak himself in that history, chris, and in that ideology. and i guess that's okay. the problem is that it's not true, and the second problem is, you know, that senator rubio has had other integrity questions raised about him in the not-so-distant past about his use of credit cards, republican party credit cards, you know, the former party chairman went to prison in that same scandal. and, you know, he's -- this is not rubio's only problem. and i think it's, you know, assiit's a good day today for anybody else who wants to be in the vice presidential slot, or on the ticket next year. >> it's a decent day for chris christie and a better day for john thune, my long shot.
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you ought to get some kind of pulitzer for that story. and joe conason, don't worry about them attacking back, that's what they do when you catch them. up next, what's the death of mow nammar gadhafi have to do w the new york yankees? it's been pointed out that the kid who killed him was wearing a yankees cap. [ male announcer ] every day, thousands of people are choosing advil®. here's one story. [ regis ] we love to play tennis. as a matter of fact it was joy who taught me how to play tennis. and with it comes some aches and pains
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back to "hardball." now for the sideshow. first up, looks like gop candidate herman cain has a way of bringing in some extra personal cash during the 2012 season. apparently the candidate is still very much available for motivational speaking gigs. think he's trying to stay under the radar on this one? far from it. according to the candidate, "i'm still doing paid speeches, but i have not raised my prices. this economy's on life-support,
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so i'm very mindful of those companies that would like to have me come and speak, but i'm not going to take advantage of my newfound popularity just to put more dollars in my pocket." well, the hermannator experience, a phrase cain trademarked himself, does not come cheap. cain estimates he's raked in $250,000 in speaking fees this year. next up, front-page frenzy. with the news of libya dictator moammar gadhafi's death yesterday, it was time for the press to get creative. "the washington post" with "for gadhafi, a bloody end in libya." and the "chicago tribune" went, "wi "with gadhafi gone, libya exhales." the always tasteful "new york post" had "gadhafi killed by yankee fan," and showed gadhafi's killer wearing a yankees cap. there were still questions about the sequence of events that lead to gadhafi's death. most people are handing credit to this 20-year-old member of
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the rebel forces. there he is. and now for the big number. did you notice that each of those headlines went with a different spelling for the former libya leader's name. does it start with an a, k, g, or a q, and does it end with an "i" or "y," and quite an arrange of spellings for his first name as well. how much translations for his name have popped up, 112, just in the english translations. the library congress alone lists 72 of them. 112 right ways or wrong ways to spell mow nar gadhafi. that's tonight's big numbers. up next, jon huntsman is the presidential candidate democrats seem to like the most. he's coming here next. you're watching "hardball," only on msnbc.
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i'm hampton pearson with your cnbc market wrap. stocks ending the week on a high note amid euro zone optimism and strong corporate earnings here at home. the dow jones industrials soaring, 267 points. the s&p 500 adding 22. the nasdaq picking up 38 points. another winning week makes four in a row for the dow industrials, three in a row for the s&p, but the first weekly loss for the nasdaq since the end of september. nobody's expecting any big breakthroughs at this weekend's economic summit in brussels, but anything coming out of that meeting could set the tone for trading on monday. here at home, we had strong earnings from mcdonald's. it's been gobbling up market share from other fast food chains for months. ge delivered a revenue beat, with earnings coming in in-line with expectations. and hard drive maker cgate
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surged on analysts showing its factories are still operating at full capacity, despite widespread flooding in thailand. that's it from cnbc, first in business worldwide. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." was tuesday night's debate in nevada a presidential forum or a dogfight? candidates attacked each other personally and everyone seemed like they were trying to outflank the others to the far right on issues like taxes, immigration, and even religion, and one candidate absent was jon huntsman, the former governor of utah and ambassador to china under president obama, who boycotted, actually, because nevada was planning to move up its caucus date, close to new hampshire's. governor huntsman has focused his resources on new hampshire, where polls show he'll have a tough time coming out ahead. but according to the latest nbc news/marist poll, huntsman is
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trailing mitt romney by nearly 40 points. and nationally in the latest cnn poll, huntsman came in last place with just 1% of support. when it comes to the republican party of 2011, it's lonely at the center. we're joined now by republican jon huntsman. when we spoke last time, i know a lot of republicans in pennsylvania, where my brother is very active as a republican, who are very good on science, well educated, believe this country's got to compete with countries like china. they have to know technology and science. they can't become luddites. >> so how do you break through? you're not going to break through in a straw poll. this is artificiality at the extreme in politics. you go to iowa, bus people in per capita, pay them, put randy travis in a tent, and ask for their vote. who's not going to vote for you in those conditions? you might win iowa and might win florida, but eventually we'll get to new hampshire where you've got to earn the vote. there's no artificiality associated with new hampshire, you've got to get in there, grind it out, town hall meeting
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after town hall meeting, house party after house party. we've got 80 events now in new hampshire. you've begin to feel when you connect with people on the street. when you're in those town hall meeting, you can feel the energy when you're making your presentation and do the hour of q&a, they want to drill down and know your heart and soul, and what makes you tick. >> are there still those live free or die hard republicans, those old yankees up there that are not right-wingers? >> of course. you've got 30% republicans, 30% democrats, and 40% that are unaffiliated. and that number is expanding. if you want to do well in new hampshire, you've got to have a message that sells. >> let's take a look at this quote of yours, which i found quite winsome. back in august, in response to messages by others in your party, you tweeted the following. "to be clear, i believe in evolution. and i trust scientists on global warming. call me crazy." >> call my crazy. >> that was a delightful comment, but it was basically, you're whisking away the rest of these people in your party, because they began to look crazy, by the way you said that. >> well, i was being true to who i am, chris. this is what i talked about as
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governor. it's out of the teddy roosevelt view of the world. the republican party, we forget, draws a heritage, that goes back to 18 the -- >> name me a few teddy roosevelts in the republican party of tea party day today? >> well -- >> can you name any? reasonable people. >> well, tom ridge, who was out campaigning for us. >> former governor of pennsylvania. who else? keep going. >> we're not going to play the name game. >> i was wondering if there's more than a couple. christie whitman, perhaps. i don't think there's many. susan collins, olympia snowe, you lost spector. >> it's ideas that matter. >> here's where ideas concern me, this is about compassionate conservatism, which is what bush jr. ran on. let's watch performances by past debates, what i consider outrageous performances by the audiences. >> in 2010 when i was deployed to iraq, i had to lie about who i was, because i'm a gay soldier, and i didn't want to lose my job. my question is, under one of your presidencies, do you intend to circumvent the progress that's been made for gay and lesbian soldiers in the military?
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[ audience booing ] >> your state has executed 234 death row inmates, more than any other governor in modern times. have you -- [ audience applauds ] have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might have been innocent? >> no, sir, i've never struggled with that at all. >> that's what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. this whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody -- [ audience applauds ] >> congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die? >> yeah! >> let minimum die. the guy who was commenting because he didn't have life insurance or health insurance. death penalty, executions by the hundreds in texas being cheered on. a gay soldier on uniform, on post in iraq booed. why didn't you stand up and say, this isn't my america? why didn't you personally stand up when you're surrounded by this horror show. >> chris, you're on stage, and oftentimes, there's a lot of
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banter out there, you don't know where it's coming from. you get off the stage, you're asked about it, and i responded. i said, turn to that soldier and thank him for his service. we all wear the same uniform and salute the same flag. >> well, what do you make of your party? are you proud to be in the party right now that you're watching in these debates? >> i've been a republican since i was 18 years of age. and there are twists and turns ahead, but let me tell you about where the republican party goes. the republican party follows leadership, it follows vision. 2012 is going to be a visionary election. it's going to be about getting this economy back on its feet. it's going to be about securing our position in the world. it's also going to be about addressing our two wars abroad. we've got to be realistic about our deployment patterns. we're in the second decade into the 21st century. we still have 50,000 troops in germany. the russians aren't coming. >> what do you think we should do in afghanistan? come home? >> we need to draw down. pull them back and say, this is a counter-terror effort. we need to say, this requires intelligence gathering, special forces response, a much smaller presence -- >> we should not be nation building at a time when this nation needs to be built.
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so what we need to do -- >> okay, look at the last years, starting in 2001 when president bush came in after 9/11. we wasn't to iraq, afghanistan, then iraq, which i never understood going to iraq, logically. do you think the pattern was wrong, led by george w. bush? too much aggressive foreign policy? too hawkish? do you think so or not? >> don't need to relitigate. when it follow ours key national security interests like afghanistan, absolutely. what have we done in afghanistan? we've routed the taliban, we've dismantled al qaeda, we've killed osama bin laden, we had free elections in 2004. i say we've achieved our objective. it's time to come home. >> was iraq smart or not? >> i don't want to relitigate that, chris. a lot of us felt that it wasn't a good thing. and here we are. you make the best of it. you have to clean up the mess. you have to move on and secure our interests. and that's where we are. >> i look at this campaign and the way it's gone to the republican side and i find a disconnect. i look at romney getting big numbers and i see no love for him in the party. i so no love for him among the other candidates.
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i see a guy who may well be the nomination the way nixon did in '68, a loveless candidacy. is that possible? is it possible your party would nominate someone they just didn't like? >> it's too early to tell. we haven't had a single vote cast. we haven't had a single caucus or primary state event yet. when new hampshire rolls around, i think that will be a very telltale sign. this is again, where it's got to be earned, it can't be -- >> who would be a better president, barack obama or michele bachmann? >> don't get me into that game. >> i'm asking. okay, herman cain or barack obama? i think it's about one or two guys in the party besides yourself you might vote for. and i don't think i would include herman cain. i don't think i would include bachmann. i might include mitt romney, but i'm not sure. >> listen, anyone who has a founding, a grounding in how this economy works and can get it back on its feet, understands the the need for tax reform, regulatory reform, energy dependence, and addressing our international needs. >> but you've been surrounded by loony tune arguments. michele bachmann said we shouldn't pay any taxes. how can you sit next to a person
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who says there shouldn't be any taxes and have a reasonable conversation with her? >> it's the primary phase of this campaign. all voices ought to be heard. >> the primitive phase. >> look at the democratic party. >> you know what i want to say to you, thank you for your service. for being the same man in the republican party, who rhyemindss there's actually someone who has their feet on the ground. we won't destroy you by saying you're doing well, because that'll probably kill you. have some of your friends come around as well. very impressive, governor. i'm very familiar with your top politics. you were a great governor, and enormously popular out there. i think you did a fabulous job as a united states ambassador to china. thank you for your service. >> thank you, chris. >> thank you for coming to "hardball". >> appreciate it. >> and thanks for being crazy, as you put it, in other words, sane in the republican party. up next, herman cain's leading the republican field in a lot of new polls, but he can't seem to stay consistent on the issues. i can't understand this guy. i don't think he even knows anything about these issues he's talking about. we'll prove that in a moment. we'll be right back.
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mitt romney's not conceding iowa after all. romney campaigned there yesterday. for the first time in months, saying he'd love to win there. the big question for romney is how much campaigning he does there. if he investors too deeply, a loss in iowa would be a big blow to him. but with his rivals struggling, a romney victory in iowa followed by a win in new hampshire could be a knockout punch for the former massachusetts governor. we'll be right back. exclusive to the military. and commitment is not limited to one's military oath. the same set of values that drive our nation's military are the ones we used to build usaa bank. from free checking to credit cards to loans,
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doesn't seem like he's thought through some of his positions. this week he tied himself in knots regarding his position on abortion rights, and appeared not to notice, actually, what he was doing. mark halperin is an msnbc senior political analyst and julie mason writes for politico. thank you both for joining us on this friday. on wednesday night, herman cain described, and this has hard to follow, his position on abortion rights. let's listen to this and study it. >> i believe that life begins at conception. and abortion, under no circumstances, and here's why. >> no circumstances? >> no circumstances. >> because many of your fellow candidates, or at least some of them, qualify that. >> they qualify, but -- >> rape and incest and so on. >> rape and incest. >> are you honestly saying, you know, tricky question, i know, you've had children and grandchildren, if one of your female children, grandchildren, was raped, you would honestly want her to bring up that baby as her own?
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>> you mention two things here, piers. >> why? that's what it comes down to. no, it comes down to it's not the government's role or anybody else's role to make that decision. so what i'm saying is, it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make. not me as president. >> so he's pro-choice. in an attempt to clear up his position, herman cain tweeted yesterday, "i am 100% pro-life. end of story." julie, i don't get it. he says he's pro-choice, with great detail, in fact, and in great personal terms says it's up to the family, and then he says it's pro-life, which means it's up to the state and they have a right to outlaw it. what's he saying here? >> well, i think what he's saying is he's a republican running for president who doesn't have a coherent stance on abortion. which is, for a lot of these republican primary voters, is just a deal breaker. and then to end the conversation on twitter, i mean, is this what it's come to in the republican party? i still don't know what he stands for. >> mark, can you decipher?
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>> look, chris, if this -- if this is adjudicated by shows like and on serious websites and newspapers, the guy's dead, not just because in the republican party, you have to be pro-life, you can't sound like kate michaelman, but because he's showing a lack of consistency on a range of issues. that, so far, though, is not where herman cain's campaign status is being adjudicated. it's being adjudicated out with crowds who love him. and so far, don't seem bothered by his inconsistencies. this one may change it, but i don't think so. >> well, let's see what the pro-life crowds, which is most of the religious right. here he is this summer, herman cain appeared on the fox business network and baffled host john staszel with his answers on abortion. let's listen to him there. >> i'm pro-life from conception, yes. >> any cases where it should be legal? >> i don't think government should make that decision. i don't believe that government should make that decision. >> people should be free to abort a baby --
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>> i support life from conception. no people shouldn't be just free to abort, because if we don't protect the sanctity of life from conception, we will also start life from conception, we will also start to play god relative to life at the end of life. >> so i'm confused on what your position is. >> my position is i'm pro-life about. >> if a woman is raped, she shouldn't be allowed to end the pregnancy? >> that's her choice, not the government's choice. >> so abortion should be legal? >> no, abortion should not be legal. i believe in the sanctity of life. >> i'm not understanding. if it's her choice, that means it's legal. >> no. i believe -- i don't believe a woman should have an abortion. does that help to clear it up? >> okay, that guy was going both directions at the same time. it wasn't like he was flip-flopping p. he was flip-flopping
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simultaneously. he said it shouldn't be legal but should be up to the family. how can that mean anything which makes you wonder has this guy given any thought to any public debate on anything except business issues. and i think that's a fair assumption. >> that's a fair question. some of the parties going bananas is iowa. i think he'll face a lot of questions about what he stands for. he better have a better answer when he gets there. >> here is rick santorum who has been consistently pro-all these years. here are he is telling the associated press the following. let's basically the position that just about every pro-choice politician has in america. i don't know too many pro-choice politicians who are for abortions, but they say the choice is a decision government shouldn't be involved in. that is herman cain's position,
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which does not make him pro-life. that is the quintessential pro-choice position. he's cutting him a lot of slack. he has found in the midst of all that back and fort a consistent position which is really what my dad's position was, he used to say i'm pro-life, but it's up to the woman. which is a contradiction, as well. your thoughts, mark. >> well, i think it's where a lot of americans are. it's not a great position to have in general in the republican party. julie is right, we'll get a quick test of this. tomorrow night there are six republicans speaking before the same audience of religious social conservatives and i think he is going to have to address it in his remarks. there's a range of issues on which his answers are not you have to snuff for a normal big time presidential candidate, but i'm not sure it matters. the people who like him like him for a i think raf ropes and abortion is not front and center for some republican voters. >> you you take the first shot on this one.
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here he is talking about gitmo with wolf blitzer. he completely contradicted himself here on you how to handle a hypothetical situation sort of like what the israelis just had to go through about getting his captive back at the price of releasing a lot of killers. let's listen. >> could you imagine if you were president, we're almost out of time, and there were one american soldier who had been held for years and the demand was al qaeda or some other terrorist group, you got to free everyone at begguantanamo bay. could you see yourself as president authorizing that kind of transfer? >> i could see myself authorizing that kind of transfer. i said that i believe in the philosophy of we don't nobody y negotiate with terrorists. i would never agree to letting hostages in guantanamo bay go. >> a situation which is as hard as rock.
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two opposite positions on the same question. trading terrorists to get free an american service person. mark. >> i think this one could hurt him because he must if he's going to be a credible candidate, republicans are now getting to that period we call time to pick a president. and if he on national security questions is all over the map and says at one point with apparent conviction, yeah, i'd negotiate with terrorists in a hostage negotiation, that to me is going to hurt his possibility of growing his support and awil diminish his support. >> thank you, mark halperin, jewelry mason. this guy finally getting vetted and he's not looking good. when we return, let me finish with an end of an era in iraq. [ male announcer ] what's the beat that moves your heart?
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let me finish tonight with iraq. the war in iraq. george w. warned against saddam hussein, the war that took us away from the terrorists that attacked us to fighting a war the hawks wanted us to fight. what an embarrassment the decision has been, a war we were brought into by someone of limited ability using odd phrases like wmd. to the possibility of building nuclear weapons to the desire to use nuclear weapons to, okay,
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chemical weapon, plans to have chemical with theapons to a pos desire to have chemical weapons to, okay, we got it all wrong. there was nothing there. we knew that before the war, had into weapons, had no effort under way to build them or buy them. it got a thin majority to back the invasion of another country. the total support of one political party and the pathetic collaboration of the second that allowed this american war in iraq to take place in the first place. and today the president who ran against the war announced that it will be overcome christmas. good. bad that it was ever fought. good that it is over. good. good for obama. just good. but again, and never to be forgotten, badded that we ever did it, bad that so many americans were talked into it by double talk and cheap propaganda that should have been cut through by the media

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